Tag Archives: virtual reality

Future of Online Gaming

When gaming, the web and reality cross over

GAMING has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. With millions of people currently playing single online titles such as World of Warcraft, while still managing to show a steady growth curve, the sky is not even measurable as the limit anymore.

online gamingEven if you’re not an online gamer, nor are you familiar with massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), it is still interesting to know what the future of online gaming may hold and the impact that it will have on the entertainment industry as a whole. We may even see the first attempts at a crossing over of gaming, the web and reality.

The unique aspect of MMORPGs, such as WoW is that they are constantly changing. With continual updates and expansions being developed, as well as the social bonds that are formed between players online, MMORPGs are perpetual by nature. Player activity actively changes these massive gaming worlds, keeping them fresh and ever-evolving.

For gamers, MMORPGs are exciting virtual worlds into which we escape to have countless interesting adventures. For the rest of the world, a MMORPG is a form of entertainment – comparable to books or movies, just more interactive. Games are also able to story-tell like no other genre and newer technology­ is making gaming more visually appealing than ever before.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

To put gaming investment into perspective, to develop a MMORPG the same scale as WoW costs anywhere between $60 million and $100 m. With that sort of money you could theoretically buy a new game every 10 minutes for the next 20 years.

dollarDeveloping MMOs is therefore a life or death risk, but with the decade-long success of WoW (which has certainly set the benchmark — reaping in over $1 billion every year) we can certainly expect to see more MMOs being developed in the foreseeable future.

The only scary part is that online games such as WoW are designed to be played at the exclusion of everything else and thrive on how much of the player’s time they can consume. There was even that case in 2009 where a young Chinese girl died of exhaustion after playing WoW for several days straight. However, MMOs are not something to be feared, and it is interesting to follow their evolution and study their compelling nature.

FUTURE ONLINE GAMING

With WoW having monopolised the online gaming market, it may take some time before we see a new and innovative release come to our screens. However, the fact that WoW only covers a single genre, there is a lot of room for the MMO model to evolve and grow in the future. Not everyone is into orcs and elves and medieval folklore. In the near future we may see interactive home décor­ simulations, fishing games, multiplayer­ motoring games or educational puzzle titles — all playable with others in a 3D online environment.

We’re likely to see a lot more user-generated content driving the development of future gaming too. Player-driven content is the lifeblood of MMOs and the fact that players can change the course of a game’s story will result in unique experiences for every player.

We may also see development of social­ games and web-based games in the future. These have the potential to grow and compel gamers and prove to be profitable at the same time. Sponsorship could come in the form of website links and web adverts. Farmville, for example, could have you visit http://www.jerrysfarmsupplies.com to get your new watering-can game card allowing you to progress further in your virtual farming endeavours.

I like my coffee DarthWe may also see a blending in of reality-based gaming in the near future. Having you visit the nearest MacDonalds or coffee shop in your area could form part of a quest for example.

Such ventures could provide the exorbitant funding that is required to develop online gaming further. This means guaranteed customers for selected stores, exercise and sunlight for gamers­ and the neccessary funds to develop multiplayer gaming further; win-win-win. It may be aggressive advertising at its best, but at least it will get gamers­ off their chairs and into the daylight.

The future of online gaming will certainly be something exciting to behold, no doubt. I leave you with one of my favourite gaming quotes:

“When we look at the future of MMORPGs, we think virtual reality. We dream about being able to lead another life where you are the boss and control everything. In real life, you are influenced by everyone else. In virtual reality, you get to choose your paths and if you think something is wrong, you change it.” — http://www.astahost.com

Blogger’s Greatest Hits

POST PROMO: Blogger’s Greatest Hits attempt to make a comeback

Each post I’ve ever written is like a digital child of mine – each given due attention and updated when necessary. However, as a parent, I naturally grow concerned over how some of my digital offspring are more popular than others.

They each have their own unique talents and personalities, and although popularity is a fickle thing, I can’t help feel that it is my fault as a parent that some of my children get more attention than others. Perhaps they weren’t labeled properly at birth, or their dad simply lacked the know-how of how to get them ahead in life at the time.

I have therefore made it my parental duty to promote some talented children of mine that still have much to offer and are yearning for your attention. Below are a few of my personal favourites from each category – my greatest hits trying to make a comeback. I’m certain that you will find yourself willing to adopt some of the following:

From Quite Interesting:

“Staring blankly at my keyboard the other day (as one does) I began pondering over the arrangement of the keys. “What’s up with that?” I heard the comedian within me say. I set forth on a cyber-galactic journey to discovery why my keyboard’s layout looks the way it does…” (Read more)

Santa Claus“So just who is that fat, old jolly guy in the red suit that parades around shopping malls at Christmas time – entertaining kids and scaring adults with his “ho ho hos”? It’s usually someone’s dad – the one (in any community of close friends) with the biggest beer boep…” (Read more)

“Do you ever use sayings such as “saved by the bell” or hear your grandmother squawk something like, “Heavens, it raining cats and dogs outside!” A lot of people still do yet have no idea where such phrases originate from. I got a little history lesson the other day which explained the dark truth behind some of these popular figures of speech…” (Read more)

From Web 2.0:

“Digital Blasphemy is by far one of the best places on the web to find incredible pc wallpapers. Ryan Bliss has made a career of creating digital desktop backgrounds that are simply amazing. He is also quite the generous type and offers a few of his digital artworks for free. I have collected several of these over the years and wanted to share my top 10 with anyone who appreciates such talent…”
(Read more)

Photofunia“There are some great digital photography websites out there that allow you to do some wondrous things with your own (possibly dull) collection of pics. Such sites also make you look really smart when your family and friends don’t know about them and ask, “how in the name of Luke Skywalker did you make your facebook profile pic like that!?”
(Read more)

“If you feel that you missed out on an opportunity to be pasted in your fellow matriculants’ yearbooks and be remembered forever, you can now do it online. With a little imagination and creativity, you could digitally create an entire yearbook of all your former classmates, whether you matriculated in the ’50s or the ’90s…” (Read more)

From Happy Friday:

“The video “Where the Hell is Matt?” has seen over 21 million views to date, so you’re likely to have seen it before, but if you haven’t, you should give it a watch. It takes you to a place of magic and joy and wonder – a place where all the bad in the world is forgotten for 4mins 29secs. It is one of the most viewed viral videos of its time and one of my top dancing videos…” (Read more)

chip-n-dale“There are no cartoons better than the hand-crafted animations of the 80s, which make today’s cartoons look rather crappy by comparison. The following make me slip into a nostalgic state and give me the urge to run around the garden naked climbing trees again. What? That’s not weird. It’s called my “inner-child” – eveyone has it… don’t they?” (Read more)

“Here you’ll find a collection of humorous and memorable South African Facebook statuses I’ve come across over the past two weeks to illustrate my point that South Africans are pretty, funny people…” (Read more)

From Online tips & tricks:

“The video-web is an exciting place to be involved in these days, particularly because it is constantly evolving and simply brimming with potential. If you have untapped creative juices, or any original video-related ideas, there is nothing stopping you from making a contribution to the growing videosphere…” (Read more)

blogging 101“If the idea of blogging excites you, there is nothing preventing you from starting one today. There are several ways to go about this, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, there are two blogging sites I would recommend…”
(Read more)

“… here’s a much more controversial-friendly, and very easy way to learn the SA anthem if you don’t know it already. You’ll see that it’s as easy as ABC” (Read more)

From Gadgets & tech:

“Specifically since the introduction of Windows XP to Japan, more and more consumers have been taking their laptops and electronic devices to Shinto priests to be blessed against system crashes and technical failures…” (Read more)

“Our traffic nightmares may soon come to an end thanks to an invention known as the Shweeb. And this is not just some fancy new swear word, but the world’s first human-powered monorail” (Read more)

“I wrote a hand-written letter the other day and found that my hand-writing looked like barbed wire. I realised that it had been a good while since I had used any hand-writing skills due to my increasing reliance on typing everything. It seems obvious to me that the archaic technology of hand-writing is being slowly killed by digital technologies. Yet just when the patriotic hand-writers thought things couldn’t get worse, society unleashed something called “digital paper” or iPaper…” (Read more)

Reviews:

“The gaming chair came in attachable parts with a set of tools, a spider diagram, some Chinese instructions, and a note of encouragement. I half expected to find a small key, some coded message, a strange map and an enchan­ted ring” (Read more)

Aibo“I’ve been thinking of getting a puppy; one that’s potty-trained. Or perhaps a streetwise cat that can take care of itself. The thought that I could never find the time to raise a pup made me consider robot pets. Several of these can learn skills and tricks, recognise faces, voices, and colour; but they won’t pee on your carpet…” (Read more)

“Twisp is not a real cigarette, but a personal and portable vapouriser, that uses micro-electronics and a lithium polymer cell to evaporate nicotine in ‘smoke’ from a replaceable cartridge. The vapour does not smell nor does it contain tar, carcinogens or smoke particulate found in first and second- hand cigarette smoke, but it feels, tastes and looks just like the real thing…” (Read more)

Gaming & virtual reality

“It has been said that Wannado has redefined child entertainment by simulating a dream world where children are encouraged to take on and experience one or several adult professions. It features 60 Real-play venues and over 120 career possibilities – ranging from archaeologists, doctors, attorneys and TV hosts to fashion models, pizza makers, DJs and clowns…” (Read more) 

VisionDome 5“As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are. At the cutting edge of vitual reality is the VisionDome…” (Read more)

“Known as the godfather of modern videogame systems, the Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS) helped spawn a multi-billion dollar gaming industry. Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 was the first successful console to use game cartridges and its influence can still be felt today in the Xbox, PlayStation, and GameCube…”
(Read more)

Cellphones & cellular technology:

“The Samsung Jet has opened up a whole new world of mobile web browsing with its high performance Dolfin web browser and revolutionary 3D cubic interface, allowing super-fast surfing. The device also supports the option of multi-window browsing – allowing one to surf up to five pages simultaneously…” (Read more)

iphone art“Some of the latest hype arriving in the wake of the new iPhone 3G S is an Apple application for the device called Brushes, which allows users to do more than just doodle on their iPhones. The images are “painted” freehand, using fingers and thumbs…” (Read more)

“The Health Concept Phone (pictured) is equipped with eNose technology, which effectively allows it to electronically “smell” what you eat and keep track of your food intake. It is able to ‘recognise’ food (and other things) by its unique chemical signature. Recommended for people who have a habit of eating with their eyes closed. Similar phones have the ability to emit a whiff of your significant other’s scent every time he or she phones…” (Read more)

Top videos:

  1. Cars in the Park
  2. Magna Carta live + interview
  3. White Mountain Folk Festival
  4. Blogtube: Proudly South African
  5. Splashy Fen: The 20th Big Splash!
  6. Miss nude Australia – Arianna Starr

Related post: Welcome and enjoy your stay

The reality of the virtual – part II

You can read the first part of this series here.

Yesterweek I wrote a post about 3D glasses and all the joys they bring to the wealthiest 10% of the world. If that made you wet your pants with excitement, I thought it would be great to describe how they work in a little more detail.

Stereoscopic gaming
Stereoscopic gaming, for that matter, is basically gaming with the use of a 3D enhancing device such as 3D goggles. The stereoscopic experience is taken to greater heights with the combined use of surround sound and force feedback devices (or ‘haptics’ to be more technical).

With just the 3D specs and surround sound, entertainment junkies share a similar experience with avid IMAX (3D theatre) goers. Add gaming and a PC to the picture, and the result is superior immersion and an orgasmic experience.

Stereoscopic 3D hardware makes explosions fly out of the screen and adds depth that makes your computer screen look like a window rather than a flat projection, so say the manufactureres of 3D technology. Furthermore, nearly all gamers who have experienced this testify that their gaming performance is improved ten-fold. Here’s what one gamer had to say:

“The feeling of depth enhanced the visuals by a factor of ten. When I rolled in on my ground targets, I found that my aiming of rockets and bombs was actually a lot better in 3D than in 2D”
– Flightsim.com

Installation
Installing such devices appears to be a real cinch. A single video synchronisation adapter is used for most, and wireless devices require no serial ports or USB connection whatsoever. All that is required is to install the device’s software.

The wireless devices make use of an infrared transmitter to communicate with your PC and a dual-emitter transmitter to synchronise your monitor’s refresh rate with the glasses. Once set up, your specs activate automatically when viewing just about any PC game, photo or movie.

Battery life seems to be rather good too. Most 3D glasses use lithium cell batteries that provide 50-100 hours of usage. Retailers further promise that there’s no need to change your preferred video card drivers to utilise their stereoscopic software. Nice.

Where can I get a pair and for how much?
My spidey senses are telling me that the above question is probably on your mind right now. It’s a bit of a tough one to answer, as there is such a monumentous range of 3D glasses on the market with different levels of coolness.

However, the standard pair, which can do most of the things mentioned today (and is pictured in my last post) goes for around R1000, but you can shave R300 off of that if you don’t mind a pair with wires. Just don’t get carried away and leap across the room to avoid a virtual grenade exploding beneath you.

PS: There are several websites selling 3D goggles but note that there are some great deals on used pairs on sites such as e-bay.

PPS: I know I promised that I would write about haptics (or ‘force feedback devices’ to be less technical) this week, but I’ve decided to save that chapter for next time. (I also need to do some research and learn a bit more about them) 🙂

Related post:
The reality of the virtual – part I

The reality of the virtual – part I

As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are.

I’ve always believed that, besides war, gaming (more generally – the entertainment industry) brings about the most innovative technological developments. In fact, the technology developed from military uses of virtual reality is finding application in several walks of life. For example:

  • Medical students are now operating on virtual patients rather than dissecting real, organic-smelling people
  • Architects are taking people on virtual tours of their dream home before finalising the design
  • I won’t even mention that heights that virtual reality gaming has reached
  • Business people are attending conferences and social events without having to board a plane
  • Chat rooms today mean much more than just email notice boards, which were all the rage a few years back
  • In this day and age consumers are even able to shop in 3D stores from the comfort of their armchair or beanbag

Twenty years ago few imagined that personal computers would soon be found in almost every home, classroom and office. In twenty years time, virtual reality may be just as central to our lives. Immersing ourselves in a virtual environment of our choice may become as commonplace as turning on the old television.

I’ve always had an interest in virtual reality. I wanted to know more about it. So I searched the interwebs to see what’s currently available on the market. Here are the cheapest and most expensive (i.e. most advanced) stuffs I came across:

The VisionDome
The VisionDome volume 5At the cutting edge of vitual reality – the VisionDome is a kind of half egg-shell that up to 45 people can sit/stand in and watch some pretty intense television, or lose themselves in some very life-like games.

At 5-meters in diameter, the V5 (the latest in the VisionDome family) provides a massive screen area and comfortable seating to give larger audiences a truly immersive and incredible experience.

It boasts a maximum resolution of 2048×1536 mega pixels, has 6 projector or lens options, and has a maximum output of 8000 ANSI Lumens. You would think that no one can live at that speed, which is why it sells for around
$345 500 (roughly R2 764 000).

3D GLASSES: What all the cool geeks are wearing
3D glasses possibly lie more within a South African’s budget. In the past decade, virtual reality glasses have improved in quality and become much lighter and cheaper thanks to the advancement of virtual reality technology and software.

Wireless options allow you to roam the room with your headset on, and almost all units plug into computers, DVDs and TVs. The option for a Stereo 3D input is also now available with Apple’s latest in the line of Intel Xenon driven processors.
Stylish
Change the way you see the world… and look pretty stylish too

Stereo 3D is just one step into the world of virtual reality. When connected to a video source with the correct software, amazing entertainment and good times in your living room are to be had by all.

As Fate would have it, it is estimated that this market will probably first be driven by adult entertainment (i.e. porn), then enhanced video games, then the major film industry.

E-DTM 3-D
Here’s a pair of 3D specs that I thought sounded rather appealing (exerpt taken from www.edimentional .com):

The E-DTM 3-D glasses instantly convert virtually all of your existing PC video game titles into true 3D. That means a real sense of depth and distance as you’re taking aim at the enemy battalion approaching, trying to find the apex of the next turn, or coming in for a carrier landing in your F-14. It’s why so many customers report improved game play performance when using our glasses in addition to stunning scenery and visuals

Note for interested buyers:
When researching a good pair of 3D goggles, make sure you know the difference between goggles that only enlarge a TV image and ones that actually provide a true 3D view. While more expensive models incorporate 3D technology, the basic models only enhance the viewing area to the size of a super-large television screen.

•Next time we will take a look at stereoscopic displays and haptics (force feedback devices). These are those appendages such as the cyber-glove, that take one’s virtual experience that much closer to reality.

See also: The reality of the virtual part II

Related posts:
The reality of the vitual
Experience the Internet in 3D
Too hot to handle: Future gaming and PC’s

Experience the Internet in 3D

AN Australian company has launched a free tool that offers web browsers a world-first opportunity to view the Internet in three dimensions.

Melbourne-based ExitReality said its application allows users to turn any regular website into a 3D virtual environment, where an avatar representing them can walk around and meet other browsers viewing the same website.

Founder Danny Stefanic said that, previously, only specialised websites such as Second Life and World of Warcraft allowed users to enter a 3D environment, however, interaction within those environments are limited.

“ExitReality goes far beyond that. It allows you to view not just one website but the entire World Wide Web in 3D,” said Stefanic.

Exit reality and enter the virtual world of the 3D web
cool

Browsers can use the tool to turn their social networking pages on sites such as Facebook and MySpace into a virtual apartment, where photographs are displayed on the wall and links to friends are displayed as “doors” leading to other apartments.

Users can customise their flats by “decorating” with 3D versions of couches from stores such as Ikea or downloading an e-jukebox to play music clips stored on their personal page.

Similarly, using ExitReality on video-sharing websites such as YouTube creates a virtual cinema, where the browser’s avatar sits next to other users logged on to watch the clip they have selected.

Stefanic said the tool will transform the web from a solo experience into one that could be shared with friends and other users interested in the same content.

“The user can see and share experiences with their friends while chatting with them and other people at either their own website or another billion web pages” – Danny Stefanic

Stefanic says there is a wealth of 3D content on the Internet that conventional web search engines ignored. Such 3D effects made the web more interesting for users, meaning they were more likely to spend more time browsing the page.

“Users would normally spend no longer than a couple of minutes on a 2D website,” he said. “In a 3D environment, this time can extend to half an hour, creating a huge potential for the website owner to maximise user engagement.”

Link: ExitReality home
Related post
: The reality of the virtual

What do you Wannado when you grow up?

WANNADO: Amusement park where kids do what they wannado

WHEN I was growing up as a child the dream place to go was Disneyland. People dressed like Goofy, candy floss, and a few amusement park type rides seemed to cut it as the height of entertainment. But that was back then…

The youth of today will soon be nagging their parents to take them to a Wannado City – an indoor role-playing theme park. The first of its kind, Wannado occupies 140 000 square-feet of South Florida’s largest mall and sees more than 26 million visitors a year.

It has been said that Wannado has redefined child entertainment by simulating a dream world where children are encouraged to take on and experience one or several adult professions. It features 60 Real-play venues and over 120 career possibilities – ranging from archaeologists, doctors, attorneys and TV hosts to fashion models, pizza makers, DJs and clowns.

The venues and professions are designed to allow kids to live out their dreams while simultaneously empowering them to become decision-makers and learn responsibility. It is the ultimate childhood experience which has been framed around the difficult question of: “What do you wanna do when you grow up?”

“At Wannado City, kids can do what they wanna do”
Wannado City

The chief creative officer of Wannado City – Luis Javier Laresgoiti, came up with the idea while watching his daughter “play executive” on his business phone. Wannado is now a fully capitalised venture backed by multinational entertainment corporation CIE (Corporación Interamericana de Entretenimiento), and is led by an experienced team of entertainment executives from corporations such as Paramount Parks, Nickelodeon, Time Warner and Disney.

Such corporate backing brings me back to the reality that will live in a vicious, expanding capitalist society. When my peers and I were younger we only had to start worrying about what jobs we might do in our latter high school years. A Wannado City, on the other hand, almost seems like a cleverly fun way of instilling a capitalist ideology into the naive minds of children, with the hidden agenda of: “Get them while they’re young!”

The project is aimed at the 2-14 year-old set, and will cost you or your child within that age range $30 (roughly R210) to get in. Kids aged over 15 are charged half-price, and those under 2 get in for free.

Wannado City caters for schools, corporate organisations, and even faith-based groups; and if you have a birthday party coming up, book now – they cater for those too.

Additional Wannado City locations are currently being developed throughout the United States. I just wonder whether South Africa will have anything remotely similar by the time I have kids. Otherwise they’re just going to have to aspire to be a journalist like their dad. Sorry kids!

For more info check out:
The Wannado M-Lab
Expansion Plans for Wannado City
Attending a Jobs Fair for the first time

The reality of the virtual

Just when one thought it was possible to escape the confines of real life by emerging oneself into a virtual world, Second Life as a popular example, is becoming rife with destructive practices from child abuse to prostitution, and is now becoming a site for religious convergence.

Catholic missionaries have trekked the Earth to spread the word of God since the colonial era, and are now finding ways to Christianise the virtual world. An article set to appear in the August addition of the Vatican approved journal – Civilta Cattolica, is aimed to encourage Catholic missionaries to immerse themselves into the virtual world of online computer games in an attempt to convert cyber souls.

If you are not yet familiar with Second Life it is basically a vast computer-generated online world in which players can create virtual versions of themselves (known as Avatars) and can buy or sell virtual…stuff and interact with other users in several ways. The game is huge, ‘housing’ roughly 8 million ‘residents’ at present.

A Vatican priest named Father Spadaro, has been quoted in several online publications saying that “sin has flourished in the various towns which make up Second Life”. According to the same publications, acts of gambling and prostitution have become rife within the game. To give a fact closer to reality, $1.5 million (R105 million) is exchanged in the online world each day, according to Linden Labs – the creators of Second Life.

Spadaro has also said, however, that “while the virtual world might be a refuge for some people seeking to flee the real one, it is also full of people seeking something more from life, including, possibly, religious enlightenment”.

Angle AvatarThus there appears to positive light on either side of the ‘Christianising of the virtual world’ argument. However, the penalties for such virtual sin is becoming very real in some countries where virtual misdemeanours constitute real crimes. Germany as an example has already called authorities to investigate cases of paedophilia and virtual child abuse in the online world. In other countries virtual gambling has been completely banned.

The erotic dimension of Second Life may be a little extreme, offering players the opportunity to buy unique genitalia for their avatars, but just how dangerous is a virtual act of prostitution or paedophilia? It might not say much for the mindsets of the ‘sinful’ players, but what real damage do such acts constitute?

Second Life has already been penetrated by commercial conglomerates such as Adidas, Nike, Calvin Klein, BMW, Mercedes and Vodafone, which are seizing the commercial prospects the game offers. But is there really still room, or a necessity, for religious penetration too? If the virtual world is as close to reality as it appears, then what’s there to prevent the formation of religious cults? Or the outbreak of religious wars from occurring within the game as they do in real life? To me it seems that the real danger is a blurring of reality with virtuality.

Related post:
Experience the Internet in 3D

Links
The New Game Plan: Virtual Reality
10 ways online gaming will change the future
Jesuits say take word of God to Second Life – REUTERS